PLAINFIED, NJ - There's an entire industry built around the word 'junior'. To wit: Masterchef Junior, Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, American Ninja Warrior Junior, Junior Mints, Monopoly Junior, Absorbine Jr., and so on.
The definitional connotation is a reduced or younger portion, rank or status.
For the Summit High School Track and Field Team, competing at Hub Stine Field on Day One the Union County Championships, there was nothing 'junior' about the achievement of three, third-year Hilltoppers -- Joe Lusardi, Matty Goldblatt and Jacob Pantoya -- who each delivered personal bests to claim individual Union County Track and Field Titles.
Lusardi leaped 22' 4" to win the Long Jump competition, the victory coming on the heels of the Conference Title he claimed the week prior. Lusardi's first Union County Title means the Maroon and White have won the event two-years running, as Dorian Jackson -- now a freshman on the Monmouth University Track and Field Team -- out-jumped the field in 2018.
In his first year on the Hilltopper Track and Field Team, Goldblatt jumped 6' 2" to take the High Jump crown. Goldblatt's personal best jump tied him with Donsly Barthelus from Elizabeth, and he displayed extreme toughness and grit to win the jump off over Barthelus after several additional rounds.
Hilltopper Head Football Coach Kevin Kostibos is, himself, likely jumping for joy knowing that he will have two soon-to-be-senior soarers in his backfield next season in the form of Lusardi and Goldblatt.
Classmate Pantoya was the third Maroon and White junior to reach the top of the podium, winning the 1600 in a time of 4:21.04. Pantoya edged Union Catholic's Myles Plummer by .02 in a photo finish. The win is Pantoya's second individual Union County 1600 title, repeating his 2018 triumph. He now has four County titles to his career including the two he contributed to as a member of Hilltopper relays squads earlier this week.
And, showing that the Freshman are representing as well, Summit's Lara Cota took fourth place in the 1600, clocking a 5:14.70. Cota's time is a breakthrough personal best, eclipsing her previous fastest time by a whopping 14 seconds.